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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight, our conversation with one of the most successful singer song writers and the music business, sheryl crow. her latest project is a celebration of r&b music called "100 miles from memphis." she is also a breast cancer survivor who last month opened the sheryl crow imaging center in los angeles. our conversation with sheryl crow, coming up right now. >> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i'm james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a tavis smiley. with every question and answer, nationwide insurance is happy to help tavis improve financial
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literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] tavis: pleased to welcome sheryl crow to this program. the multi grammy-winning singer- songwriter has started a tour in support of her latest project, "100 miles from memphis," a celebration of r&b music. from the cd, part of a video. dayssummer
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i just want to be what you want me to summer days baby i just want to be with you i just want our love to shine ♪ tavis: i live not too far, just down the road and around the corner from sheryl crow imaging center. >> fantastic. tavis: congratulations, and thank you. >> we are really excited about it. we are hoping to open them up all across the nation. we're trying to help women who are uninsured be diagnosed and treated. the great thing about imaging center is we have a digital
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mammography machine that would just installed, the latest technology, and it is full service. you can be diagnosed and treated there, not just shuffled through the system all over town. it is full service, and it is a combination of conventional medicine as well as any choice of eastern medicine to others. tavis: while we are on this, why be so public about your own battle, your own ordeal? and why step up in this way with the imaging center? >> i think it is a dubious honor to become a spokesperson for something like cancer. before betty ford, nobody spoke about breast cancer. the breast, in and of itself, women did not speak about their bodies. since then, we are more comfortable, but since then, cancer, the word, is terrifying.
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i felt like i went through my treatment and i was able to go through it in the privacy of my own surroundings and think about what i wanted to do. part of what came from the opportunity was the blessing of being able to actually speak with women who are fans were who followed me about the mammograms, and just knowing their breasts. until there is a cure, that is the best that we have as far is the cure is prevention. tavis: your view about life before the diagnosis and on this side of it? has it changed? >> it is a funny community, cancer survivors. everybody will talk to you about the tailor-made lessons that come with the treatment and survivorship. for me, the lesson was showing up for myself, the idea of putting on your oxygen mask for
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yourself first. that was my story, learning how to say no and limit myself and stay within myself. that was my tailor made lessons that came with the diagnosis. tavis: the lesson from that that has been most important to you, where motherhood is concerned, is what? >> i think before i was diagnosed, my life was something that i controlled and all the things that happen for me were things that i managed. i believe in the power of manifestation, but i also believe that sometimes you limit yourself by painting a picture of what your life is supposed to look like. for me, i thought family life was husband, homes surrounding, everything functioning in a healthy manner. then the baby comes, and for me, it just was not going to happen that way. i feel like creating an expansion was about letting go of the idea of what the family
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had to look like. i did not get married before i had my kids, and i did not go to the sperm bank because i feel like there are so many children coming out of homes and i want to be a mom. the blessing for it in me was not letting go and maybe the man comes after the kids. tavis: since it is appropriately titled, "one half miles from memphis," where you grew up, i assume that you could never have imagined that you would grow up and not just be this mass of rock star but, as we talk now, a spokesperson for a couple of major things. people look at you now is not just a start but a role model for breast cancer, adopting kids -- people like you now as not just a star but a role model for breast cancer and adopting kids. >> i would not have been able to
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say i am going to adopt kids and people look at me and my right. you live your life, at least for me, i meditate and i feel like i am led to make decisions based on what my spirit told me to do. i would never have thought as a kid, from a small town in the middle of the midwest, that i would ever be doing anything like this. it is just another example of how infinite possibility is all around. to sort of be grateful for the idea of the possibility opens up an incredible wealth of opportunities. then it is what you do with it from that moment forward, really, that speaks volumes about who you are. tavis: one of the things i have always admired about you as a fan is the fact that you have seemed to chart your own course, and that is always difficult for women in the world that we live in, but you have charted your own course.
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you mentioned meditation and that you tried to follow what is in your spirit. what happens when your spirit of the jew and wait -- what happens when your spirit leads you and a contradictory way? the way the music business works or life works. what happens when the spirit lead you in one direction and the music business says that is not where you want to be? >> what makes me think about this is i have been watching obama lately. i think that, for me, one of the most important things about surrounding myself with people who i feel are conscious or on a constant course of a tanning and light met -- of obtaining and white cement or being a compassionate human beings, i have a compassionate group of human beings around me. i don't know everything, and i rely on those people to sometimes have a vision that i cannot see because of ego or
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because of such conscious or unconscious, would ever read is that is going against it. going against it. one of the things that i think about obama, and i still believe, at this moment in our evolution as people, that collectively it is about who we choose to represent us. it is about the words they speak and the message they bring and what it is that they reflect and emulate, and that those people, when we cannot necessarily rely on what our spirit says, can help us identify and understand what is resonating in us, even when it is uncomfortable. i have been lucky. since the very beginning of my career, from the moment i work with michael jackson until now, i have had the same manager who has always been on a course of enlightenment and consciousness and has been a great source of
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strength, and he has run at me with people i can count on. tavis: you mentioned obama, and i will get back to michael jackson. >> i just wanted to make sure that use all the hair. tavis: we will bring that back. hold up that photo? i want to see that again. i have to ask about obama. you got political during the campaign this last time around. has that been a journey for you? >> i have always been political. when i was a kid, when i got to vote for the first time, my mother was a democrat and a father was republican. secretly, all of us kids could vote by that time, 18, 21, 24, they were campaigning us because they knew they would cancel each other out. tavis: your mom and dad were working the kids? >> they were working less. -- they were working us.
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i was raised in a family that was highly interested in community and what happens around us. i was raised that way and i have been politically active since i was 18. and very active for gore, very active for kerry, but with obama it was different for me and us as a nation. i am from a small town where sometimes the race lines have been very divided, and people came out at that moment in our history, whites and blacks, hispanics, and went door to door in my little town. my dad, who was the republican, was knocking on doors. there is something about the message that resonates with all of us. i have deep concern about what i am watching all across the board, democrats, republicans, tea party, about the power of
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our words. i always go back to bobby kennedy and i read his speeches and think how forward-thinking he was, and the speeches of martin luther king jr. and how forward-thinking he was, and what resonates in us with our divinity and brightness. i see us getting away from that with so many political pundits, people from my part of the world, like rush limbaugh, who instead of speaking to us at a level of speaking -- seeking greatness and thus are motivating us by fear and hatred. it frightens me. it frightens me for the country because i feel like even the greatest leaders, even when we were really down, during the reagan times, people followed him because the words he were using -- the words he was using, even though unemployment was less than is now. i think it is so important that we demand the greatness and our
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leaders that we deserve. and not allow that kind of rhetoric to take over and become what would qualify as leadership. tavis: let me connect that back to the project, the new record. he talked about the fact that words have meaning and the art -- you talked about the fact that words have meaning and they are powerful and is the message that resonates. not that every one of the lyrics in your songs have to be substantive, sometimes they are just pawns, everything does not have to be socially redemptive, but how much thought you give to the lyrical content? >> i really want this stuff to be in the time honored fashion of the vulnerability, desire, less story broke, -- less story broke, even though one of them is political commentary. the last record came on the
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heels of having breast cancer, a public break up, and being very involved in the environmental movement, feeling a sense of urgency on what was happening in the direction of the country. that record was very political, and this record, i wanted to sing songs that i thought were coming from a place of love and desire, and that is where this is. tavis: speaking of the record, you mentioned michael jackson. that is your cue, jonathan. let's see the hair. leave that up the second. here is the core part of this story. -- here is the core part of that story. how cool as it that the first record you ever got was, what? >> "abc." tavis: and then fast board, years down the road, and you end up on stage singing with
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michael. how school was that? -- how cool was that? am i am the poster child for infinite possibility. on saturday morning, we watched the jackson family cartoon. we watched the variety shows. a lot of us kids thought when we were growing up we would have our own tv show, thinking he would never leave your family, and we saw them being an example of what family was. years later, he was the first person to really give me my first gig. but more than that, i am lucky that i got to stand on the side of the stage and watch him a fine to me what divinity is. i think inspiration is something that we cannot put a definition on it. we don't understand where it comes from. the only thing we understand is when we get out of our own way, that is when the best of us is released and we look at it and go, i don't know how i created
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that, but here it is. there's something very special about him. i miss knowing that he is on the planet and he is making music. there was something that just felt right about him, even in the years of scrutiny and speculation. there was something in him that we all could relate to and that made us believe in something. tavis: i thought a second ago to ask one question, and i want to ask the in verse. what i wanted to ask was a typical question about what it is that you learn from watching a genius like michael at work, the greatest entertainer of our time, maybe all time. what is it like to be able to watch this guy worked from the side of the stage. i could ask that, but i want to ask, instead, when you are working with that level of genius, when you are working with the entertainer of all
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entertainers, what is it in you that says i can do this? i can headline my own show? i guess my point is, it can be inspiring, but can also be intimidating. >> it was. i don't think i understood the magnitude of it until i realized that this is heavy and it started to work against me and i lost a lot of confidence. i look back on it and wish i could be who i am now, knowing what i know, and step into that, but that is not how those things are structured for you to learn. tavis: what do you mean you lost confidence? >> as soon as you enter the public eye, there are a multitude of people, out of jealousy or whatever or dislike or whatever, will criticize you. he learned to ignore it or not read into it, but at that -- you learn to ignore it or not read into it, but at that point time i did not understand that.
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and the politics that go along with having such a high position. ultimately for me, i think the learning curve and the growth came out of not just watching the brilliance of what he could do and how he performed every night and how he was involved in the production and choreography and everything else, but it was witnessing how people -- how he could be present for the people. now that i am taurine, i don't think people understand that until you stand in front of an audience and you see their eyes and make the connection that is a real connection. there are very few artists that i feel like, when they step out, they are there for the people, not just there because they do a good job of it. he was different in that way. i think he was uncomfortable in every area of his life except that area. having toward 16 years, --
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having toured 16 years, if i cannot see the audience, it does not have the meaningful connection timed just playing and collecting the check. tavis: hence, the bonus track on the cd is, "i want your backed." -- i want you back." >> the rhythm track was so similar to a song by marvin gaye that i just. singing it and the whole band followed. they said you have to do that. tavis: does that happen often, the band talk you into something? >> nobody tells me what to do. tavis: except the band? >> i said, no, i cannot do that. it was a year to that anniversary, almost to the day. he was my first employer, and
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there were too many strong connections to say, well, who cares what people say. tavis: since we've mentioned the first record was "abc," take me back those years ago, what do you recall about getting that first album? >> i was the third of four kids, so my older sisters had record collections before i did. to actually have a record that was mine, that my sisters wanted, that was heady stuff for a 6-year-old. i remember playing it over and over. for those who remember holding an album and the smell of it and pictures and all of that, as a kid, that was such a high to drop the needle, especially six years old. you never got to work your parents' record box anyway, but it was a big deal. it was my first grown-up record. i word out.
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-- i wore it out. tavis: you it explained that you have been on stage 16 years. you have been doing it for a while, but is it what you thought it was going to be when you had those dreams of getting on stage in doing your own thing and looking out at the thousands of faces? >> it is now. i think there were a couple of years early on, when i one of the grammys, i had been touring, and then i won the grammys and i had to go on tour again. there were multiple interviews, driving every night, getting up and doing the same thing. it was really tiring and i lost my perspective about what i was doing and why i was doing it. but a lot of young artists suffer from that an ability to discern what you have to do and
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what it is not necessary in order to exercise self preservation. i think breast cancer was a game changer for me. before that, i would play and i did not want to see the audience. i wanted it to be dark and one at the lights on the stage and the curtain comes down. it would be a real distraction for me to lock eyes with somebody. after breast cancer, something was awakened for me that made me want to have the ability to see everybody and to be able to connect with -- it sounds stupid, but the vulnerability, the joy-seeking. i think people come to see you for a lot of reasons. they don't necessarily just read about you in a magazine or whatever. they come to see you because they want be transported, the one-two feel some kind of motion, a lot to forget about what is -- they want to feel
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something, some kind of motion, the want to forget their lives. tavis: the ultimate benefits of growing up 100 miles from memphis are what? >> a lot. i grope and a small town, like many small towns in america, -- i grew up in a small town like many small towns of america, with everybody's kids not getting away with much. it was the bible belt, they worked hard, and the puritan work ethic was alive and well. people did not travel much or eat out much, so let happened at home. going to the big city was going to memphis, and we did it may be twice a year. we would go to see santa claus at the department store. there was something mystical about turning into the radius stations and hearing the city -- and turning into the radio stations and hearing the city. it was otis redding and wondered
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scattered -- and lynard skynard. my education happened not on tv but the radio. tavis: catch her while she is on the road, with her new project, "100 miles from memphis." sheryl crow, an absolute delight to have you on the program. am i watch you all the time. -- >> i watch you all the time. tavis: i listen to you all the time. that is it for now. until next time, keep the faith. you give me something
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yeah ♪ ♪oh, that summer day that i recall eight give me hope -- it gave me hope and love ♪ >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at smiley.i, i'm tavis to me next time for what the president's poll numbers mean for democrats in november, plus an actor donal logue. that is next time. we will see you then. i>> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i'm james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference, you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to
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improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] captioned by the national captioning institute
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ztecs,@st with a razor-sharppros and the skilled craftsmen >> "next morning we came to
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